Blogs | Sports | News
Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Pirates do, indeed, make history

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My Friday column is built on one small bit of research that the Elias Sports Bureau did at my request. I wondered how the Pirates’ free fall after 100 games compared to other teams that were in first place at that point and … well, go click to find out.

Suffice it to say that the Pirates have found a way, somehow, even after all that excitement, to be the Pirates again. And that’s too bad.

Not sure how many of you are planning to be at PNC tonight, but I am. One last time for me. Tomorrow brings the drive to Indy for Steelers-Colts.

>> Bryant McFadden won’t be the starting corner Sunday in Indianapolis. That will be William Gay. The Steelers say McFadden’s lesser role is because he is limited by injury. The film would suggest it’s because he is limited by his ability to cover wide receivers.

>> Where are all the Jordan Staal bashers this morning?

>> Tino Sunseri will not last three full quarters against the Irish.

(And the Steelers will blow out the Ravens, and the Pirates eventually will hit. Take it for what it’s worth, nothing more.)

>> Happy to see Hopewell’s Rushel Shell on the verge of breaking the WPIAL rushing record, maybe as soon as tonight. I admire the fact that the WPIAL doesn’t distinguish its record-holders by classification, but having that record belong to Mike Vernillo of tiny Fort Cherry since 1999 … well, I don’t want to take anything away from anyone, but Shell is doing it within the context of a far better brand of football in Class AAA. And he’s looking every bit the legit prospect, if you check the schools recruiting him.

>> This is the transcript of yesterday’s chat. Thanks to all who filled the room.

>> Before I go to PNC tonight, I’ll be driving out to Southpointe for the Penguins’ practice. If you see someone looking really groggy at that ungodly hour of the day, holding his Starbucks cup as if it contained liquid gold, stop over and say hello.


  1. David W. Hannen says:

    Question is does your “win” percentage on predictions beat the pirates .286 after 1st place? I believe you struck out once or twice on the pens tampa playoffs, super bowl, a pitt bowl game (?), pitt b-ball in march and maybe a few others. It seems you have a curse on pitt. teams with your predictions. Maybe I’m way off. Can Elias do some more research?

    DK: Honestly not something I’ve ever tracked, David. Maybe it’s something you can do for the coming year.

  2. Eric Bowser says:

    Dejan, I’ll be heading over to Pens practice, see you there.

  3. Fat Jimmy says:

    I think the interesting question to this Pirates season is: does a team buy equity in portions of the season?

    If you believe that true, then the Pirates did make progress this season. For a non-negligible part of the year, the team was collectively good and individually had some breakouts.

    But, if you only judge the team on the collective, then this final stretch has erased all of that.

    One thing I’m sure of, is that Dejan went too easy on Huntington in his column. After pointing out that the “core” wasn’t very good this year, DK basically absolved Huntington by suggesting that Huntington’s failures in identifying “major league acquisitions” (Overbay and Diaz, this year), but not pointing out that it is also Huntington who is responsible for identifying … you know … really good young players, too. (None of whom have had a great season)

    Let’s face it: we all got a little carried away with that June-July run. In truth, Huntington got extended on the momentum of those months, but he’s done nothing to deserve it.

  4. JAL says:

    JAL’s The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

  5. JAL says:


    3—Pirates Prospects

    Where Are the Hitting Prospects?

    4 McEffect

    Moneyball Review

  6. JAL says:

    5 Raise the Jolly Roger

    News and Notes

    6 WHY-GAVS

    Arbitration decisions and Ronny Cedeno’s option

    7 Bucs Dugout

    Ronny Cedeno Is Pirates’ Most Underrated Player

    Billy Rowell: Class AA ‘Too Fast’ For Aaron Baker

    8 Rumbunter

    Pirates Disabled List Update: Kevin Correia Is Alive and Well.

  7. JAL says:


    9 Tribune Review

    Wasn’t all bad for reeling Pirates this season

    International signees bring big bats in 2011

    10 Conway Daily Sun

    Locke will be on a pitch count versus the Reds Friday night

    11 USA Today

    Marlins’ Nunez suspended amid reports of playing under assumed name

  8. JAL says:

    12 Kent Reporter

    Kentwood grad Hague named MVP of Pittsburgh’s Triple-A baseball club

    13 The Saratogian

    Capital District Baseball Hall of Fame announces inaugural class; Tim Stauffer, Dale Long, Don Pepper, Johnny Evers and Johnny Podres among inductees

    14 Estavan Mercury

    A.L. MVP? Verlander on the verge

  9. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    -Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers vs. Colts: Five Player’s to Watch in Pittsburgh’s Sunday Night Game against Indianapolis

    Lovable Losers? NFL Teams with a Losing Streak that Made it to the Super Bowl

    -Steeler Depot

    Steelers Play Direction Stats

    -Steelers Gab

    Regular Season Game Three at Indianapolis: Keys and Prediction

  10. JAL says:

    WVU Blogs

    Gold and Blue Blog

    LSU Preview: Open Season on Bayou Bengals

    Musket Man’s Map to the Victory Gold Mine’s-map-to-the-victory-gold-mine/

    WV Illustrated

    Game Preview: LSU Represents WVU’s Toughest Test



    Pre-season game 2: Pens 4, Blackhawks 1…Jordan Staal powers a 20 minute effort

  11. JAL says:

    I am on the road all of next week so morning links will on vacation with me.

  12. JUCOFan says:

    95, 99, 105, ~90 … I wonder what the MLB record is for cumulative losses over 4 years?

  13. Drew71 says:

    Zing, Dejan.

    I’m gonna put your column to music. “For one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot”…until the pitching collapsed, Mordred struck and you know the rest, you wrote it.

    So about that pitching collapse – collapsed, worn out, whatever – since they are surely not going to tender Ohlendorf (if you can “earn” a non-tender, that’s it), then surely they also can’t NOT afford to pick up Maholm’s option, can they? (Ignore the stiff syntax; you know what I mean.)

    And to the regular chorus from the crowd who writes “He’s not worth the money” as if they are pitching in themselves:

    1) PITCHING was the reason for the Camelot thing this summer. Let’s give magic a chance to happen again.

    2) Look at the going rate for just ok pitchers.

    3) WHO is worth the money? There are exactly 6 players in all of MLB worth the money they’re paid. SIX. I counted.

    4) Not even including Maholm’s 2011 salary of $5.75MM, the Pirates have about $20MM dropping OFF the payroll this offseason. TWENTY MILLION. Where are the gonna spend it? And speaking of which…

    5) Other than Fielder and Pujols, a weak free agent class facing them this offseason. Better options that Maholm? Doubt it. Even marginal pitchers are likely to have bidding wars to drive their price right up to Maholm’s level.

    6) So pretend that Maholm’s option is picked up and he has a spring training injury and never pitches again for PBC. (I hate writing that kinda thing about a good guy.) That would be a shame on many levels, but it wouldn’t financially level the franchise. IT’S A ONE-YEAR OPTION. Won’t choke the team like the multiple year Jason Kendall albatross. And considering he’s generally been healthy, in fact a horse, this is an unlikely scenario. (More on that later.)

    7) And about the money – don’t think of it as $9.75MM since they already have $5.75 on their books for this year. Think of it as $4MM MORE. For just one year. From a guy that in all his PBC years has NEVER had an epic meltdown year. Never pitched less than 162 innings or 26 starts. Sure, he’s been mediocre at times, but he’s been good enough to eat innings for 6 consecutive years. At least you know you are not getting the pitching equivalent of Operation Shutdown.

    8) And REALLY about the money – IT’S NOT YOUR MONEY! Let’s let them spend it, huh?

  14. Drew71 says:

    how did that stupid face happen?

  15. Thundercrack says:

    Good article DK. What has got lost so far is your other other article about the big bats in the minor league system that have come from the international signings. Good information there.

    But was writing the article a requirement for being named the President of the Renee Gayo Fan Club?


    DK: The last person on Earth who would ever find out about an article written in Western Pennsylvania is Gayo, believe me.

  16. Eric Bowser says:

    @Drew – When you put the number 8 followed by ) – it creates the smiley face.

  17. Arriba Wilver says:

    DK—Petulant—childishly sulky or bad tempered; insolent or rude in speech or behavior. Do you know something that hasn’t been or can’t be reported about Pedro’s decision not to go to Winter ball?

    DK: I’m OK with that term.

  18. Drew71 says:

    Well. I’m pretty petulant about smiley faces.

  19. Thundercrack says:

    My smiley face was intentional.

    Drew you wrote “how did that stupid face happen?”
    Wow, you really open yourself up on that one. (Is that what you say every morning?)

  20. Bizrow says:

    Just for discussion, should we feel good about this season?
    Should we feel optimistic about 2012?

    Right now, I’m sayin No! I know the first half was sweet, but we went in the tanker once again.

    What positives came out in 2011, Morton, Hanrahan?

    Not to mention a couple of other things for 2012, per Neal, not gonna do much in FA, we got arbitration issues, zippo in catchers, lose Maholm, and so on.

    I’m just sayin….

  21. Bizrow says:

    And if I stepped on anything Dejan said, sorry, I wait till I get home to read the paper 8)

  22. OCD says:

    I didn’t realize that the Penguins practices were open to the public. How much do they charge and is it something that a couple of boys (6,7) would enjoy?

  23. Arriba Wilver says:

    TC—I had to sit on my hands to not respond to Drew’s “stupid face” comment.

  24. Drew71 says:

    My wife says that every morning.

    I remind her, You married it.

    That’ll show her.

  25. CWalton_67 says:

    I do not understand anyone bashing Jordan Staal. This guy is a high quality NHL player, and the superstar and Captain of 80% of the rest of the teams in the league. Bashing him simply because he isn’t Sid or Geno is ridiculous.

  26. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’ve always compared Paul Maholm’s option to when the Steelers used the franchise tag on Max Starks. In a vacuum neither looks like the right move, but in the context of each teams situation at the time it makes sense. It’s not like somebody is ready to burst through the door from AAA to take his spot. Have you seen Jeff Locke ? And like Smiling Drew said earlier, if they want to spend – let them.

  27. Drew71 says:

    oh please. smiling drew? i take it back. pay the buyout.

    how’s THAT for smiling drew?

  28. Milo Hamilton says:

    Hey Drew, have a nice day 8)

  29. Drew71 says:


    – drewcifer

  30. Jeff Nosmo King says:


    I contacted you yesterday on Twitter to ask you a question and you suggested that I read your Friday column and ask the question here.

    Let me first say, great work on figuring out just how historical of a collapse this 2nd half has been for the Pirates. I was actually discussing this very same subject on a Pirates message board and we were wondering if this might be one of the worst, if not the absolute worst, team collapses in history.

    So, now back to my question. In a recent column, you stated that Huntington and Hurdle should be held accountable for the team’s collapse, yet you’ve also been in full support of Huntington getting a contract extension. I don’t see how Huntington can be held accountable while also being rewarded with a 3 year (possibly 4 years) extension. My question to you is, how would you hold Huntington accountable

    DK: First off, Jeff, what message board? I’m curious.

    Second, I owe you and everyone an apology for taking so long to respond today. I actually covered all three of our pro sports teams in the same day. Been a long — but neat — day.

    Finally, I’m not sure what you’re asking that I don’t address in the column. You ask specifically about a “being held accountable” line, but I’ve never used any such thing, so I’m not where you’re getting it. The only reference I make in this particular column about accountability is that Huntington “must address why it keeps happening” in reference to some major-league personnel mistakes. Is that what you’re referencing?

  31. Kibab1979 says:

    Looks like Leo Nunez is in some trouble over a fabricated birthdate and name.

  32. Drew71 says:

    Interesting story, Shish Kibab.

    Reminds me of an issue with my marriage certificate.

    I think I had better keep that one to myself.

    My wife might be on line.

  33. Milo Hamilton says:

    Juan Carlos Oviedo aka Leo Nunez. What did Cam Bonifay know & when did he know it ?

  34. Drew71 says:

    a true gentleman, but i don’t think he knew very much. about “Nunez” either.

  35. pensfan says:

    Clearly Jordan Staal can be a very effective scorer against an AHL team, which is what Chicago dressed yesterday.

  36. Arriba Wilver says:

    Jeff Nosmo King–great post. I hope you (we) get a response. I’ve had the same questions you mentioned.

  37. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Jeff Nosmo King

    Held accountable for what ? Turning over a handsome profit to his boss every year ?

  38. Eric Bowser says:

    Back home from Pens practice that had few fans (maybe a dozen at best) at Iceoplex.

    Group 1 featured Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Sullivan, Morrow, Fleury, and Munroe. Not a whole lot to report back as practice had little physical contact and during a 3-4 minute span, Sid moved to the other end of the ice and did some shooting. There’s no way he’ll be ready for game one in Vancouver, which is fine with me. No need to rush back the young man until he’s ready to go at 100%.

    If Malkin says he’s 90%, it could be scary to think what 100% might look like for him. I don’t see any signs of trouble with his knee and he’s having fun out there on the ice again. During one exchange, he fired a shot high hitting Fleury in the goalie mask, which caught the goaltender by surprise and on the next Malkin went high again, this time prompting Fleury to throw his stick at Malkin.

    It is a meaningless two minutes but those little things are why this is a close knit team and probably why the comments given to Dejan by certain people in the Pens organization made Crosby look in a bad light because these guys do care for each other and value friendships.

    Anyways, two guys I wanted to see in practice situations were Morrow and Harrington. Neither disappointed and just once again goes to show you, Ray Shero is a fine GM and knows how to build a winner.

    I wasn’t real impressed with Neal and Tangradi. Neal was so disgusted at one point, he tossed his perfectly fine stick over the glass and gave it to a fan. The man just doesn’t know how to shoot the puck low, always high.

    Tangradi was just blah, his shots didn’t look to have that extra level of zoom on the wrist shot and his skating was more plodding. Though, his size is perfect for the screen position on the PP.

    And if you ever get the chance, take in a real face-to-face conversation with Dejan, he’s going to make you laugh and think. Great to see you again my friend.

  39. Jeff Nosmo King says:

    @ Milo Hamilton

    Yeah, I’m with you. I totally agree that Nutting doesn’t care at all about winning, despite what he says. On opening day this year there was an article (might have been written by Dejan but I don’t recall) where he spoke of the 2010, 57 win season by saying, “those were dark, dark days.” Was this season really that much different? Why because we have a “rah rah,” manager as opposed to a sleeping manager? And truthfully, Hurdle very much resembled Russell for these last few months, so what was different about 2010 than 2011 other than a handful of wins. The team certainly doesn’t seem much different to me. Just replace Ryan Church with Lyle Overbay and Bobby Crosby with Matt Diaz and it seemed the same to me.

    That being said, my question about accountability with regard to Huntington was directed at Dejan. He recently said in a column that he feels that Huntington should be held accountable for this team’s collapse, but he’s fully in support of Huntington’s extension. I want to know what Dejan’s idea of accountability is for Huntington. To me, accountability would mean he gets fired and replaced. You can’t punish or suspend a GM. So, I just don’t see how Dejan can be critical of Huntington and want him to be held accountable, yet also want him to get a contract extension. That’s a huge contradiction.

  40. Smitty 50 says:

    Wow…this is tough. Having been a Pirates fan since 1958, I’ve seen the good and the bad, so that makes this season a micricosm of my entire fan’s experience. This is the most fun I’ve had watching baseball in a loooong time….sadly it blew up before my almost believing eyes. But as my story gives away my age, I have no recourse but to hope, not believe that next year will be better………..Hope is all I’ve got

Other blogs
Sports: Rob Rossi | Steel Mill | Chipped Ice | Bucco Blog | iPreps | Pitt Locker Room | Penn State Sports
News: This Just In | Trib List | ICycle | Flow Back | Stories Behind Trib Stories  

» Top Sports
» Top News
» Top Breaking News